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Class In Session: Springfield Teachers Approve Contract

Dusty Rhodes
NPR Illinois

Teachers and educational support personnel in the Springfield School District approved a new two-year contract last night by a vote of 422 to 150.The package includes annual 3 percent raises for teachers and 4.25 percent for support personnel over each of the two years of the contract.

Christine Sanders, a teacher assistant at the Early Learning Center and a member of the bargaining team, said there's a reason support personnel got a higher percentage raise.

"The teacher assistants have been underpaid for several years. The requirements have changed over the years. We all need to have an associates degree or 60 college hours. And in the pre-(kindergarten) world, you also have to have specialized early childhood hours. And our pay has not changed over the years," she said.

The contract also calls for more security, restorative justice rooms for students, and, Sanders said, some flexibility that will help teachers in the classroom.

"The teachers need some autonomy, and they need some respect. Most of the teachers in this district have master's degrees. They know how to educate kids. We need to allow them to educate kids,” she said. “Not tell them how to, but support them in educating them." 


School district employees have been working without a contract since mid-August. The school board is expected to approve the contract early next week.

This story has been corrected to show the increase for ESPs at 4.25 percent. A previous version of the story said 4.75 percent.

After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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